Psychology has become increasingly mainstream in recent years, with enormous attention being paid to how our psychologies, often unconsciously, influence how we behave in professional spaces as well.
The relevance of psychology to negotiation is especially important. On the surface, it may appear that we are negotiating prices, terms, and conditions but it really all comes down to the need for both parties to come to one shared opinion or solution. That said, in negotiation it’s critical to understand the psychology behind opinions. This can form the foundation for a successful outcome.
In the research, psychologists will often refer to opinions as “attitudes”. In this context, an attitude can be anything from a strong moral conviction around a particular social issue, to a preference for one brand of coffee over the other. Attitudes are important for two reasons: they can be durable and they influence behavior.
Sticking to the coffee example, generally speaking people tend to have fairly strong opinions about the beverage. Usually, people either love it or hate it – and coffee drinkers typically have a preference for a particular blend or brand. A daily Starbucks drinker may have a particularly durable attitude – meaning it could be difficult to persuade them to switch to McDonalds or Tim Hortons on their morning commute. Similarly, there may be hints of influence as well. When out of town or traveling – they may find themselves seeking a Starbucks or even purchasing Starbucks brand instant coffee at the grocery store.
Why Strength Matters
Not all opinions or attitudes are equal. While a particular attitude can influence behavior, it’s the strength of the attitude that will determine how much influence it will ultimately have.
Politics is a good example. If a citizen has a strong attitude in favor of a candidate, there is a higher chance that they will actually vote for them. If their attitude is weak, they may show a preference in conversations (or on surveys) but not actually take the action to vote that candidate into office.
This thought process applies to almost all attitudes, so in negotiations it’s important to uncover your counterpart’s attitudes and the strength of …….